Workplace Power: The 7 Types and Why You Need Them

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Leadership and management are not the same thing to me. I define leadership as the ability to influence others. The functions of management include planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. Because the definition of leadership includes influence, I believe it’s important to understand workplace power.

Dictionary.com defines power as “a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence”.  In essence, when we use power, we’re utilizing our influence to get something. This means that everyone has power. Yes, everyone. And, that’s not a bad thing. The real issue becomes what kind of power a person has and how someone uses that power. Here are the seven most common types of workplace power and how they might be used:

  1. Coercive power is associated with people who are in a position to punish others. People fear the consequences of not doing what has been asked of them. Coercive power could be used by a manager as in “Do this or I’ll write you up.” But it could also be used by the scheduling department to give someone an unfavorable work shift.
  2. Connection power is based upon who you know. This person knows and has the ear of other powerful people within the organization. An example would be the administrative assistant who has a strong positive relationship with their boss. If the assistant doesn’t like you…well, that could get passed along to the executive. And vice versa.
  3. Expert power comes from a person’s expertise (obviously).  This is commonly a person with an acclaimed skill or accomplishment. Don’t assume that expertise always comes in the form of being a vice president or having a Ph.D. An expert could be the person who is able to fix things around the office.
  4. A person who has access to valuable or important information possesses informational power. I think of informational workplace power in two ways. First, it’s the person who always seems to be “in the know” about what’s happening in the company. You know who I’m taking about. But also, those individuals who have the ability to curate good information from the internet…

Source: hr bartender

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